Navas, Eduardo.  “Regressive and Reflexive Mashups in Sampling Culture” in Mashup Cultures.  New York: Springer Wien.  2010.

  • Sampling is “when any software users including creative industry professionals as well as average consumers apply cut/copy & paste in diverse software applications.”
  • Remixes find their roots in 1970s Jamaican dub and hip hop.
  • Navas premise in the paper is to argue that when mashups move beyond typical remix practices they create “constructive rupture” that makes possible new forms of cultural production set against commercial practices of composition (1).
  • Regressive mashups: these remixes are used to remediate or draw attention to again already extant media.  An example might be the juxtaposition of music from two artists (think the Grey album by Danger Mouse.
  • Reflexive mashups:  found outside of music and typically web 2.0 applications.  These might include something like news feeds as remix or maps that incorporate multiple different forms of information.  Reflexive are defined as “samples from two or more elements to access specific information more efficiently, thereby taking them beyond their initial possibilities” (2).
  • Reflexive mashups are regenerative remixes – “a recombination of content and form that opens the space for Remix to become a specific discourse intimately linked with new media culture” (2).  According to Navas, regenerative remixes only occur when constant change is part of communication and archives are created as a result.
  • Culture in contexts of regenerative remix is a “discourse of constant change.”
  • Remix culture:  a global activity consisting of creative and efficient exchange of information made possible by digital technologies (3).
  • Three kinds of music remix: 1) extended – a longer version of an original composition that contains long instrumental sections; 2) selective – adding or subtracting material from an original composition; 3) reflexive – “allegorizes” and extends the aesthetic of sampling and challenges the “spectacular aura” of the original.
  • What is the “allegorical impulse” in remix?  Remixes depend on our understanding/reading of a pre-existing text/cultural code in order to make meaning with it.  In other words, as an audience, we are expected to see the history of production inside of a piece of art/remix.  Navas argues that postmodernism (broadly defined) remixed modernism by pushing it to call attention to its histories and ideologies.
  • N. notes that remix always relies on the authority of the original composition, whether in forms or actual samples, or in the form of reference (citation) (7).
  • What is the “regenerative remix”?  It occurs when remix as discourse “becomes embedded materially in culture in non-linear and ahistorical fashion” (7-8).  This form of remix is specific to new media and networked culture.  IP isn’t necessarily important because this form of remix doesn’t engage in citationality; rather, it validates itself through “practicality” (8).  Google News – according to Navas – is a regenerative remix because it doesn’t produce content but compiles (mashes up) material from major sources around the world.
  • Navas reviews Lyotard (death of metanarratives and creation of fragmentation) and Jameson (postmodernism is a period that allows for the presence and coexistence of a range of very different, yet subordinate, features of capital).
  • Navas turns to repetition and representation (Attali); in effect, this argues that the ways that we understand knowledge, ourselves, and our culture is through acts of repetition.  Representation is the calling forth of an artifact (say a song) and literally re-presenting it through performance.  Repetition is the ways that culture re-represents through reuse of already extant cultural materials.  This creates something of an echo chamber, no?  What about originality?
  • Culture is redefined by the constant flow of information in fragments dependent on the single activity of sampling.  The ability to manipulate fragments effectively, then, extends principles of remix.  (12)
  • Megamix: what Girl Talk does – sampling brief sections of songs that are sequenced to create what is in essence and extended collage: an electronic medley consisting of samples from pre-existing sources (13).
  • Some reflexive remixes are regressive in that they work to point back to the “greatness” of the original track through a celebration of it as a remix (15).  “Regression” is a nod to Adorno’s idea that Media often provide consumers with easily understood entertainment and commodities.
  • N. notes that the power of all extended, selective, and reflective remixes lies in their power as allegorical.  They depend on recognition of pre-existing media for their power.  In this sense, they are regressive and might be detrimental to the possibility of affect (Jameson’s “waning of affect”).
  • What kind of mashup do you want to make – something with a “practical purpose” or something that is regressive and for entertainment?
  • Reflexive mash ups don’t acquire their cultural authority through recognition of pre-existing sources, but instead validate themselves through how well their samples are sourced in order to develop more efficient activity (22).  This means that sources aren’t celebrated but simply subverted toward new ends.
  • Import of the Regenerative Remix:  it becomes the contemporary frame of cultural reference by combining the state of social communication with software that is designed to keep up with changes materially and ideologically (25).
  • On Wikipedia:  it is a reflexive mashup because it reflects people’s understanding of History in terms of past, present, and future and is always changing and ready to be accessed according to the needs of the user in the ever-present (28).

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